The more I research our family members who were alive during the Civil War, the more I realize just how profoundly the Civil War affected our family. The number of family members who enlisted and fought in the War is impressive enough on its own, but when I tally the number of ancestors who came back wounded or chronically ill, later dying of their injuries, or who died while at war and never returned home, I begin to realize just how horrible that war really was. By anymeasure, the Civil War was the most devastating war this country has ever experienced: 625,000 deaths (some say as many as 850,000 dead), an average of 600 deaths every day, and a full 2% of the total population killed (not just 2% of fighting-age men; but 2% of the total of men, women, children, the elderly, everyone). Furthermore, two-thirds of these Civil War deaths were due not to combat, but to disease—dysentery, malaria, cholera, pneumonia, measles, typhoid, and tuberculosis were the deadliest of these diseases, causing slow, lingering deaths.
I’ve written several posts about my 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace L. Scott, including one about how he contracted tuberculosis in 1864 (from which he died in 1870) while taking part in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. Horace’s tuberculosis became active around April 1, 1864, and as a result, he was unable to do much besides very light work for the rest of his short life. While he was too sick to fight or even do much work, he was not given a medical discharge. He continued with his unit for another 16 months until he had served his full three years. But last night I discovered he wasn’t the only member of his family fighting in the war.
While working on a future post about some of the earliest family photos I’ve seen, I had a revelation that I’d like to share with you. One of the most exciting discoveries that I can make when going through old family photos is finding a photo of an ancestor for whom I thought no photos existed. My 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace Scott (the subject of two previous posts: here and here), is one individual whose face I figured I’d never have the chance to see. He was born in 1842, he went off to fight in the Civil War at age 20, he caught tuberculosis two years later in 1864, he was discharged a year later, and he lived only five more years, dying of tuberculosis in 1870 at the age of 28.
I had no photos of Horace Scott that I knew of, and I didn’t expect to ever find any, although I figured I’d keep looking just in case. Continue reading →
While doing some more background research on my 7th-great-grandfather, Revolutionary War soldier Benjamin Woodruff, I came across this amusing tidbit.
This article was reprinted on page 2 of New York City’s Evening Post on Tuesday, August 1, 1826. It was originally printed in the Rahway Advocate of Rahway, New Jersey. Benjamin would have been 82 years old at the time of the scandalous incident. Continue reading →
Today’s post will take us considerably further back in time than most of my posts, to the Revolutionary War and my 7th-great-grandfather on my maternal side, Benjamin Woodruff (1744–1837). My impetus for writing this post is my recent discovery of a mystery that I’d like to solve someday, or at least learn more about.
In my last post, I spoke of my 3rd-great-grandfather Horace L. Scott, and his death from tuberculosis that he contracted while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War and participating in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. Horace died at age 28 and left his wife, Caroline (Woodruff) Scott, a widow at the young age of 22. The Benjamin Woodruff of this post is the 2nd-great-grandfather (great-great-grandfather) of Caroline (see the chart below). Continue reading →
In a previous post, I introduced Horace L. Scott, my 3rd-great-grandfather (he was the paternal grandfather of my great-grandmother, Gertrude (Scott) Askew). In that first post, I laid out all I knew about Horace at that time. Horace was born in New York, around 1842, and he served in the Union Army during the Civil War. While serving in that war, he appears to have either been injured or become ill, as he applied for an invalid’s pension in 1870, five years after the war, when he was only about 28 years old.
Sometime between 1870 and 1875, Horace died and was buried in Alden, Illinois. His widow Caroline and their children moved to Deer Creek, MN, to live with her parents. Was Horace wounded in the Civil War? Was that the cause of his status as an invalid after the war? Did it contribute to his premature death?
I applied to the National Archives for copies of Horace’s Civil War service records and any pension applications that he, his widow, or his children might have filed. I recently received two packages from the National Archives with 65 pages of scanned documents about Horace. One of the packages contained a copy of Horace’s Civil War Military Service File, and the other package contained a copy of his Full Civil War Pension File. Among the pages of these scanned documents were answers to my questions about his infirmity and death.
Clyde Askew, my great-grandfather, was a hard-working man. According to my grandmother, he could do pretty much every kind of work and was always working to support his family of five children. So far, I’ve heard stories and/or found evidence of his work as a machinist, a road-builder, a road maintainer, a hobo-chaser for a railroad, a fireman, a lumberjack, and a teamster for lumberjacks.
Today I found evidence of another job he did—helping install rural electric power lines. I found three photographs among my grandmother’s old photographs that appear to have been taken at the same work site at nearly the same time. There is no information inscribed on the back, so I’ll have to rely on details contained in the photos for hints as to where and when the photo was taken. [Note to relatives: People. Come on. Would it kill you to write some basic info on the backs of some of your photos?] Continue reading →
In my first post on this topic, I wrote that my uncle Dan told me about two songs that he thought my great-grandfather, Charles Austin (C.A.) Prettyman, had written. Yesterday, after a little more digging, Dan learned that while his father (C.A.’s son) referred to these songs as “Charlie’s songs,” it was apparently because he (C.A.) sang them so much, not because he had written the songs.
Dan did a little research and discovered that “Saloon, Saloon, Saloon” was written in 1919, and that “Say Cuspidor was a barbershop take on another song called ‘Say au revoir but not good-bye‘”.
While that’s a bit disappointing, knowing the actual historical facts is ultimately more satisfying than believing in a history that never happened. So for today’s post, I’ll pass along what my uncle learned of these songs as well as some other bits I dug up.
I found a couple of clues today that indicate that my great-grandfather, Charles Austin Prettyman—in addition to being a barber, real estate appraiser, mortgage banker, insurance agent and real estate developer—was also a dairy farmer for a time.
My uncle Dan surprised me with a wonderful historical tidbit about my great-grandfather, Charles Austin (C.A.) Prettyman. In addition to being a barber as a young man (read more here), he was apparently also a talented singer and a songwriter. And what’s more, at least two of the songs he wrote survive today in the memory of my uncle.
My uncle is a talented musician with a great voice, and his father before him was also musically gifted, having sung throughout his life including, my uncle tells me, being part of a barbershop quartet. It makes me wonder if C.A. was also in a barbershop quartet, and just how far back this Prettyman musical talent extends. Did it start with C.A., or was C.A. continuing a tradition that his father, Alfred Minus Prettyman, passed to him?
My uncle is planning to record these two songs for me, and he’s just sent me the words to Charlie’s two songs. I’d like to share those with you.
I introduced the Prettyman barbershop in yesterday’s last post. The four Prettyman brothers—Roy, Irvin, Charles, and Clarence—appear to have worked in and managed a barbershop in Wadena, Minnesota, from the 1910s through at least the early 1920s. Yesterday I presented what I thought were the only two photos I had of the barbershop, asking my readers to help me identify the men in the photographs and to discover what other details could be learned about the barbershop, including its location.
Since that post, I’ve discovered that I actually have a scan of another photo of the barbershop, plus scans of the back of these photos, which contain helpful information recorded by the Wadena Area Historical Society. As a result, I now know where the barbershop was located—110 Jefferson Street South in Wadena.